While at times it felt like Violet and Sheldon were reading from press releases regarding sexual assault in the military and the sexual assault of men (the episode was shot in partnership with RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network), you have to applaud Private Practice for being the most progressive of Shonda Rimes creations, what with last season’s rape of Charlotte and Addison’s speech about being one of only 1700 abortion providers in the United States.
Last night, Sheldon treated a soldier who’d been raped by his supervisor while on a tour of duty in the Middle East. There’s always stigma attached to male victims of sexual assault, and Rick questions his masculinity and his inability to fight his attacker off. As Sheldon says, “If a man doesn’t fight back, it makes him question whether he’s really a man.”
Rick hasn’t told his wife, Kelly, about his assault, but she knows he’s suffering from some kind of PTSD because he flinches at her touch and their sex life is non-existant.
When Rick finally gets the courage to confess what happened to Kelly, with Sheldon’s support, she pulls away from him, asking if he’s trying to tell her he’s gay because he didn’t escape the assault.
“How is that [being raped by one man] even possible? You’re a soldier,” Kelly marvels, as if the two are mutually exclusive. “Why didn’t you stop him?”
Selfishly, Kelly confesses to Sam, a friend of the family, that Rick is supposed to protect her; yeah, ’cause I’m sure that’s the first thing that ran through his mind when he was ambushed from behind and sodomised.
Credit to a show that is often overlooked in favour of its older sister show, Grey’s Anatomy (how else do you explain Seven pushing the show back to an 11:15 start time on a Thursday night? Some people have to work on Friday morning!), for a sensitive, realistic and non-judgemental portrayal of a not-often-discussed topic: male rape in the military.
Related: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.
Image via Pop Talk.